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Hendie

Calgary Diary I

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Hendie

Scouts Bottle Drive

Harry, you have started something, and I cannot but reciprocate. We cannot have ALL the South Africans move over to Vancouver, now can we?! I will endeavour to use this thread to infrom our forumites about life in Calgary. Some of it will be specific to Cowtown (as it's also fondly known as), but some of it, like this posting, could be from anywhere in Canada.

Soon after we came here, my boys discovered Scouts! Why, would you ask, only now, in Canada? After all the Scouts movement was started after the Anglo Boer War by Major-General Robert Baden-Powell, and has a strong presence in South Africa too! Well, I'll tell you! ... I don't KNOW! Anyway, the urge took them, and they both joined the Scouts movement here in Edgemont, in the North-West of Calgary. This year, when Heinrich moved up from Cubs to join his brother Eckley in Scouts I decided to join them as a "Scouter". The reason for this is primarily that I like to do things with my boys, and becoming a scouter was the only way in which I could join them on their scout outings, and camps. Security is very strict, and you have to go through a full RCMP background check before you are accepted (bear that in mind future scouter dads & moms!). So now I get to do all kinds of fun stuff with the boys. In February we are off on a cross country ski hike for a weekend, and later this winter there is a camp where we will build quinceys for survival training ... more about that if I survive!

One of the regular fundraising activities that our Scout troop takes part in, are bottle drives, one of which we had this past Saturday, and which we heard tonight brought in almost $4000! Bottle Drives are announced in the community where they are to be held about two weeks in advance with notice boards that the Scouts put up all over the community. That is usually the warning to residents that they need to hang on to those bottles that they have been hoarding for recycling. Early Saturday morning the scouts gather at the community centre, and then take off from there in vans to go collecting.

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All the containers (bottles, popcans and fruit juice containers) are then sorted, counted, and taken away by the depot truck to which it is to be delivered. It is quite a fun event and oddly enough enjoyed by all. I find the activities arranged by the Scouts to be very wholesome in this day and age of computer addictions and online gaming which robs our youth of their outdoor experiences. I get the impression that kids who take part in Scouts are viewed as "nerds" by their peers, so that is something to be on the lookout for and which you need to guard against. All in all though, a wonderful opportunity for immigrant kids especially to learn about the Great Canadian Outdoors in a protected, educational, and fun way.

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debbieD

Thank goodness, we girl guides don't have to sort out all those bottles! We just sell cookies! :)

Seriously though Hendie, great posting. Scouts is a great organization for boys. My son is 16 and still involved. Carlos is also a scouter and enjoys going on the outings. This summer they are planning on going canoeing around the islands off B.C. for a week.

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Hendie

That, people is a sign that summer is approaching again. A month or so ago it would still have been dark at 8.30 in the morning. But now the skyscrapers of Calgary are already lit up in gold by the rays of the morning sun! Roll on summer!

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I work in the North East of Calgary, and on my way to work I have to turn west on my way to work and this is the sight that greets me every morning. It's interesting to see the city in its various seasonal regalia, and although I am one who would rather see the mountains from up close, I do appreciate the beauty of this concrete and glass jungle they call Calgary!

The satelite dishes in the foreground belong to the Calgary Herald, one of our local newspapers. Interesting how gathering news has now changed from reporters jostling for position with pencils stuck behind their ears to high tech sleuths hunting down the scoops across the world.

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Harry

Hendie, ek het gedog dit gaan die Calgary Chronicle of die Calgary Courier wees.... :)

Alle sukses.

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Kolla

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On entering Calgary from the west ( Vancouver/Banff side ) this big blue sign greets visitors to our city along Highway 1, the Trans Canada Highway. Visitors passing through Calgary from west to east along the Trans Canada , locally known in the city limits as 16th Ave, has to go right through the city as here is no ring road on the outskirts of Calgary to bypass the city. Even big heavy loaded trucks with their trailers have to travel right through the city, a trip that can take as long as an hour and a half during some hours for the big rigs.

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I took this picture yesterday with old dirty snow in the foreground and some bare ground as well, as a lot of our snow had melted with the balmy weather we had the last 10 days. In the back ground a yellow school bus is passing by.

Last night and today we had about 6 cm of beautiful snow and again Calgary became cold and extreme with the temperature including the wind chill, going down to around - 33c. We were blessed lately with Chinook 'warm' glorious days with mild winter temperatures around 5c every day during that period.

The night of January 22 I even managed to sleep with 3 open windows in our main bedroom and the furnace turned completely down as I have painted our room and the paint fumes were overwhelming with windows closed.

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Harry

I know this is the Calgary Diary, but I thought the hinterland of Calgary might also count here.

I'm sure everyone has his image of Calgary and Alberta. In particular, I would imagine most folks think of the Rockies when they think of Alberta. The image burnt in my mind is rather different, and I though Hendie would allow me to share it here.

I did the "Dinosaur" thing near Drumheller in August 2001. It was really difficult to find a place to stay, as the Passion Play was also on at the time. In the end there was this liitle motel way out in the open countryside between nowhere and nowhere. That was where we stayed. It was about 20km southeast of Drumheller. I took the following picture in that area, right next to the highway. For me this is the image that captures Alberta in my mind. Where are the Eastern Freestate folks...??

alberta.jpg

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Hendie

Life Goes On

Yesterday morning, after about 4 weeks of glorious Chinook weather that was consistently balmy and warm, we woke up to temperatures well below 0°C, and like Harry has done on so many occasions, I stuck my camera out the window, and this is what I saw (don't you just LOVE digital photography!) ...

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Now the first thing I asked myself when I looked upon a scene similar to this 5 years ago was: With all the SPACE in Canada, why do they build the houses so close together??!! Well. I still ask myself that, though not as often, and I guess it's a matter of cost in the end: The closer the homes are built to each other, the less it costs to get electricity and gas to them. Which would mean that you would expect to pay less ... hmmm? Well THAT's a whole different matter, which I will leave for another time! Anyway, from this picture you will also realise that those houses are quite large, some three storeys! Well, in most cases the bottom floor is what is called a walk-out basement which normally houses an entertaiment area or a granny flat. Most homes in Alberta have basements, because the water pipes have to enter the house below the permafrost level, and so the basements are normally a full storey deep. I believe in warmer parts of the country (like Vancouver! :angry: ) not all homes necessarily have basements. Certainly not at my cousin's in Penticton in the Okanagan valley. Harry?

Well, like my heading for today says "Life goes on", and you have to go about your business and visit the supermarket to buy groceries ...

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Calgarians go to the supermarket, this one the "Real Canadian Superstore" or "Stupidstore" like our friend Alida fondly calls it. :angry: Soon after we came here, Lyné took her imaginary "trolley" and visited all the major supermarket stores in town to compare prices (you tend to do that in the beginning when you are multiplying everything by 5 to find out what it REALLY costs!) and in the spirit of the mystical inflation-rate-guage trolley of household goodies, the Superstore came out cheapest. True you get the odd special at Safeway or the Co-op or now Sobey's, but on the whole we still find Superstore to be the best value for money. And the store is HUGE inside, you get everything there. Next time I will try to remember to take my camera inside too. Anyway, back to the story: In the parking lot you collect your trolley after depositing a looney ($1) coin in the lock type thingie on top that releases the chain that otherwise keeps the trolleys from straying ...

superstoreTrolleys.jpg

Now before you go into the store, you may decide (on a day of -23°C) to leave your vehicle idling in the parking lot so it's nice and warm when you get back. Remember, this is Canada, it WILL still be there when you get back! After this, you grit your teeth, flex your muscles, and proceed to attempt to steer you newly acquired trolley in the general direction of the store across a treacherous terrain of hard packed snow and gravel graciously deposited by the snow plough truck ....

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Pierre

Hier is Calgary .. so waar is jy Hendie...lol. Lyk nie asof daar plek vir 'n muis is nie.

calgary%20big%20view.JPG

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debbieD

One of the many beautiful sunsets in Calgary. The prairies is really sky country - absolutely amazing!

Pierre, it looks like this pic of Calgary was taken coming in from the SW, so the NW (where Hendie and me and my family live) would be off to the left of the pic, over the first bridge on the left. :angry:

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Edited by debbieD

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Pierre

Debbie, thanks. I know where Hendie lives. I was just seeing if I can draw a response from him. The pic was taken when I arrived in Calgary two years ago. It was a " so this is what Calgary looks like" experience. I have lots of other pix as well of your beautifull and clean city. And I have good friends who live in the SE.

Perhaps I am lucky enough to move to our company's head office in Calgary one day.

For me one of the main attractions of Calgary is its closeness, as a big city, to the "world famous" rockies. One of the main highlights of anybody's visit to Canada. :D

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debbieD

So true, Pierre. I love the mountains, which I can see from our study window. It's funny, though, that after a couple of years, one hardly ever goes out to the mountains, unless you're taking visitors. We used to go at least once a month, to Banff or Canmore, the first year of living here, but now, hardly ever. :D:lol:

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Pierre

You are spoilt with all the beauty around you.

The same with the folks in Vancouver. And vancouver island as well. They probably hardly ever go to the ocean to wet their feet.

We up here look forward to going to other places all year long. We are very isolated.

A teacher a school used to say he like the work season because he looks forward to going on holiday all year. When he is actually on holiday he doesnt like looking forward to going back to work.

Btw I saw on the news last night that a water pipe burst in Calgary somewhere and put some people without water. The only source of water was ice cubes in the deep freeze.

I have a reservoir of water in the form of snow on my deck ...lol

So it may be worth considering to have some liquids around the house for an emergency.

Edited by Pierre

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debbieD

Funny you should mention that (I didn't see the news last night), but someone down the road from us had waterpipe trucks, and sewer trucks parked outside, and I wondered if they had a burst pipe. :D

Edited by debbieD

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Hendie

The Frozen North

As from yesterday it is officially winter in Calgary! I have to admit that I have not experienced cold like this since coming to Calgary five years ago! Or like my friend Martin would say "Die ergste hitte is nou gebreek." Isn't South African humour the best! Canadians, bless their souls, simply would not see the humour in a statement like that. This is what my favourite view of the city was like this afternoon:

calgarycold.jpg

On days like these you take your outdoor extension lead with you to work, and you pray that you'll get a parking spot with an electical outlet next to it. Yes, you plug your car into the mains for the duration of the day. All new cars in Canada are fitted with block heaters, and the first evidence of this that you notice after driving around here for a while are the electical plugs hanging out of the engine compartment of cars and trucks. This is where you connect your extension lead into, and the other end to the outlet on the pedestal in front of your car. It powers a heater that keeps your engine block at a reasonable temperature for easy starting later in the day. Of course if you cannot find such a spot, you have to go out at lunchtime to start your car, let it idle for about 15 minutes, and hope that when you have to go home it will also start again! Just one more of the fun things to contend with here in winter. There is an article elsewhere about windchill, another term to get familiar with because it's not good enough to know that the temperature today was -31°C, but also that the windchill pushed that down to -44°C ! And tomorrow we have more snow to look forward to as well.

Ja Pierre, Calgary is vreeslik groot en uitgesprei. Met 'n bevolking van amper 1,000,000 kan mens dit darem seker verwag of hoe? Soos Debbie gesê het, ons woonbuurt is so effe links van die boonste linkerhoek van daai foto van jou.

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Gautenger

Thank You Hendie

Jou Dagboek is net so interesant soos Harry s'n

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dlam

Ek is absoluut laf oor Drumheller se wereld, dus vind ek Harry se foto asemrowend. Dis hoe die prairies vir my ook lyk.

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debbieD

And the deep freeze continues ...... ! :whistling: I don't mind -10 or even -15, but yesterday it was -48 with wind chill. I had to take the train downtown, and there wasn't any parking close to the station so I had to walk for about 3 or 4 minutes. Nothing, you say!? Absolutely, unless you're walking in temps down to -48 degrees. By the time I got to the station I couldn't feel my legs. My face was all read and splotchy. ;) Then I had to do it again, on my return trip. Oi! And I was really bundled up.

Anyway, here is a pic taken outside my study window. Real monochromatic world, 'eh!

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Edited by debbieD

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debbieD

.... taken from our top back deck! Brrrrr! :whistling:

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Kolla

A typical Calgary intersection at a set of traffic lights for those who have never been to Canada. I thought it will shed some light on driving conditions here. We are in die middle of a 3 lane road approaching a red light. The 2 red lights towards the right is for each lane going right through the intersection and the 2 vertical red lights towards the left, are for the cars in the left lane who are in a turn left lane only - see the must turn left sign jut above the 2 vertical red lights. Just before this intersection there was a road towards the right for cars who wanted to turn right on this cross street towards the right. Once the lights change to green, normally the cars in the left lane will get a flashing green arrow sign that they may proceed. The street name is attached to the light poles towards the right.

In winter you normally just follow the bare tracks as most of the painted lines on the road are covered with either snow or a mix of sand/tiny pebbles and salt. This was an extreme cold day, the temperature indicator on our car showed - 29.5 c, quite scary ! Note the emissions from the cars mufflers showing in this very cold temperatures as warm steam and even like here where all the cars are idling, its very clearly visible.

This picture was taken on Monday, 26 January when local weather conditions were as follows :

WINDCHILL WARNING CONTINUED

Temp.: - 30°C

WindChill: - 42 C

Even in this extreme cold conditions life goes on as normal. You just don't see many people walking on sidewalks, the odd person just getting off a bus maybe, and quickly heading for his car or a shop.

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Kolla

Same intersection, the lights have now changed to green and all you can see in front of you, is a big cloud of steam. Heat from the engines escaping into the very cold -29c air.

post-24-1075655196_thumb.jpg

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Harry

Hendie, I just realized that I had neglected to respond to a point you raised in your 25 January posting, showing the pictures of the rather large houses and their density:

Two points:

1. In Vancouver the houses are also very close together, but here the price of the parcel of land is astronomical. I am not entirely clear why it has to be like that. However, the folks here are very stingy with freeing up land for development. So the landprice goes up and up. On a $450,000 house, it would be nothing strange to see the land valued at $300,000.

2. The basement situation here varies quite a bit. Most houses DO have a basement, but it is often really just a "crawl", as they call it here. That means it may be 5 foot high. Our own house is built against an extremely steep slope. The "basement" floor is therefore divided into three sections.

a ) The front-most part is actually the formal house front door entrance and also has a "Language student room" (Folks here take in language students from overseas..thisis a common way of making extra money in the Real Estate game in Vancouver..my neighbour has a German student at this time)

b ) The second strip is the actual functional full-height basement. In its ceiling runs all the piping and heating ducts and stuff. That ceiling is the floor of our lounge. In this basement is all the engineering of the house: water heater, central heating, breaker board etc etc.

c ) The backmost section..this is an unexcavated crawl...raw rock and soil with plastic covering to manage any damp. It frightened me silly when I got here, but is apparently quite normal in BC housebuilding. I actually grew up in a house with a "kelder" like that in PE, SA. This crawl is separated from the rest by a retaining concrete wall, and behind that wall the slope moves up to meet the "ceiling"(actually the main floor of the house) at the back of the house against the cliff...right at the back there, the space between ground and floor is about 2 foot. In the front section of the crawl I can walk upright.

My apologies again for missing the cue...

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Kolla

A snow covered car, plugged into an outside electrical outlet, on a parking lot. By plugging in your car's block heater during really cold spells, it helps, I think, to keep the oil and lubricants from freezing in the engine. But I am not technical, maybe the block heater works differently. A car parked in a unheated garage, attached to a house, will start even in the - 30c degrees we had last week. At a previous home we had a unattached, unheated garage and there we plugged in our vehicle, when the temps dipped and stayed under - 15 c for extended periods of time.

But I now see that places like Petro Canada sells a new sort of 'gas', what they call winter gas and they claim its made for the frozen north and that the improved winter gas will make vehicles start much easier and in many cases without having to plug in an outside car. I don't really know the technical details of all of this, I just find it interesting and so much different to what I have experienced in my previous life in Africa :-).

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Pierre

Here are some of my Calgary pix. Some people are lucky enough to work and live in this enviroment. :D

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Pierre

I wonder if all these buildings are also made of wood?

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Edited by Pierre

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Pierre

Telus seems to pop up in my photos all the time... <_<

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